THE question ‘what do we get for our council tax?’ was posed in the Hereford Times (Opinion, May 22) and deserves an answer.
The following will give readers at least some idea of what pays for what.
Annual running costs (approximate) are: adult care and wellbeing £70 million, children’s services £43m, transport subsidies £5m, rubbish collection and disposal £14m, road maintenance £10m, income from council tax £81m.
Readers will note that council tax contributes barely 72% of the cost of adult and child care costs.
Just one child in full-time care costs approximately £200,000 a year. A ‘band D’ house pays £1,250 a year in council tax so we need 160 band D houses paying council tax to cover the cost of one such child.
Add to this street cleaning, street lighting, flood defences, staff wages, property maintenance, loan repayments, inflation etc.
We get income from council tax, business rates, charges and government grants. The last item has been drastically cut. The difference between falling income and rising costs by 2017 will be approximately £65 million. That is why the full council agreed last year to make cuts.
Annual costs have been reduced by £35 million so far.
Another £30 million has to be found over the next two to three years.
Readers know they cannot spend more than their income and neither can the council. But we have attracted £90 million of private investment in the new retail centre, seen huge development in the Enterprise Zone, laid plans for new roads, a bypass and houses. All critical for growth and jobs. We have also begun discussions for a new university.
This Conservative administration is committed to protect the vulnerable and children, responsible financial management of your taxes, a willingness to make difficult but unavoidable decisions and a vision for the future.
TONY JOHNSON Leader, Herefordshire Council